Caption: With the news the Thorold South paper mill had been shut down, at least for the time being while Resolute Forest Products looks for a new owner, it seemed appropriate to dig out a few photos of the plant. This one I neglected to upload originally simply because of fairly obvious reasons. This is a drone photo in case anyone thinks I hopped a barbed wire fence with a ladder.
In this photo, a few portions of the plant are visible that otherwise can't be seen without obstruction due to a tall barbed wire fence along Niagara Falls Road. Directly behind the unit is the old engine shop. Believe it or not, there was a time this plant was so busy that a dedicated engine shop was built to service the switchers that worked there. I believe the shop closed sometime in the 1980s. Most of the buildings in this photo date back to the very early 1900s, and has changed owners many many times, however, the most notable has probably been Abitibi. As for this SW1200RS, 1324 evidently has CN heritage, and traces of original green can be seen on the roof, which most likely would be factory original paint from when it rolled out of GMDD London in September 1958. Unfortunately this unit suffered a prime mover failure sometime early in the winter of 2014, in which CN temporarily serviced the plant themselves, and then 1305 came in as the replacement. Judging the rust on the rails in front of the unit, it had probably sat in this location since then. However, just a month after this photo was taken, 1324 was moved into the former engine shop, most likely to deter vandals. Its fate is unknown, though if the frame is in decent enough shape, a prime mover swap may be possible since switchers are in high demand. Who knows though, it is also possible some crucial parts have already been removed off the unit for 1305 making that not feasible.
What will happen to all the equipment and infrastructure here is unknown since the plant is no longer in operation. Apparently Resolute Forest Products is in talks with another company to supposedly convert the plant to produce brown paper, for fast food and leaf bags mostly. Perhaps not all hope is lost in this case, however, the cost to produce in Ontario is very high particularly due to hydro rates and for sure will factor as a deterrent. Time will tell.
As for the story behind this photo, it was a mere one week earlier I was flying my drone over the interlocking at Port Robinson West to get a picture of CN 421, which had a DPU for possibly the first time ever. After landing my drone however, I heard another horn than sounded oddly similar to a vintage M3H horn, and I knew it had to be the paper mill switcher. I managed to see it, and followed it back to the plant, which is when I noticed 1324 was also sitting there. Unfortunately, I was never was able to get a shot of 1305 and 1324 side by side. Nonetheless, over the next few months I got several pictures around the plant, including this shot of 1324 one week after I first got photos of the operation. I'm glad I got photos when I did, because if future plans for this plant don't work out, the switchers will likely be quietly moved out without any chance to photograph them here again.